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CASE STUDY SOLVING TECHNIQUES

A possible structured approach to analyse a complex case-study,


particularly at the CEO strategic level, is as follows:Step 1. Identify and clarify what you consider to be the major problems.
Remember symptoms are not necessarily the real (or root cause)
problems.
Step 2. Identify and clarify what you consider to be the minor problems.
Consider in turn the different functional areas of
the business, where appropriate;
a) marketing?
b) finance/accounting?
c) organisational/people?
d) productions/operations?
e) company wide?
f) industry wide?
Of course, in a particular problem situation, there may only be a single
problem, or problems, in just one of these areas.
Step 3. Policy or Management problems?
a) policy issues?
b) managerial issues?
Step 4. Identify rejected solutions, or possible alternatives.
Explain your reasoning for rejecting certain alternatives.
Step 5. There is never just one right solution to a messy problem.
Suggest possible solutions, or courses of action, needed to resolve
your identified problems.
This exercise is an opportunity to develop your creative and
analytical problem-solving skills.
Justify your analysis and proposed solutions.
Again work through your problem list (i.e. steps 1, 2 and 3) in a systematic
manner, since your solutions may be addressing two or more inter- related
problems at the same time.
Steps 6. Explore the possible, and likely, consequences of your choice
of solution.
Consider possible contingency plans, in the event that your
solutions do not work out satisfactorily, if implemented in practice.
The above systematic format ensures that all possible problem-areas are
taken into account in your final recommended solutions, or future courses of
action.
Your case-study analysis must demonstrate
1. Major vs Minor problems (analytical thinking).
2. Organisational, people policy, management problems (analytical
thinking).
3. Recommended solutions (creative-thinking,) with justifications (logical
reasoning).

CASE STUDY I
Helen Flagg was an outstanding sales person in
the Ajax Discount Store. She knew the products
well, kept up to date with her recordkeeping and
was willing to work overtime whenever necessary.
None of her co-workers came near her level of
overall sales performance.
Because of this effective record Helen was
promoted to manager of the childrens-wear
department. Almost from her first day in the new
position trouble began to occur. Flagg complained
about her subordinates lack of motivation and
dedication, feeling that they were overpaid and
that many should be fired.
Naturally this caused difficulty in the department,
and two of the better sales people quit abruptly.
Flaggs superior discussed these problems with her,
but after several such discussions Helen still
couldnt understand why she should approach her
job differently.
Finally her superior offered Helen her old job back
as a salesperson with no cut in pay. At first Helen
was happy about this switch back to her old job. No
more problems with those lazy employees. But then
she became worried about her lack of success as
a manager, and this caused her sales to fall. Even
though her boss reinforced her on several
occasions, telling her that not everyone can

CASE STUDY II
There were six major banks in the city. All of them
were affected in various degrees by a cost squeeze
prevalent in the banking industry. Two of the banks
laid off several hundred employees. Ajax Trust
released 250 people, including 60 officers. Benson
Bank released 600 employees, including 90 officers.
Rumors permeated the industry and many employees
were worried about their jobs. The Cortland Trust, the
fourth largest bank in the city, announced the release
of 700 employees, 200 of whom were officers.
Now the rumors became really heavy. The Hawthorne
Trust Company, second largest in the city, had no
intention of releasing any employees. Even in the
deep depression of the 1930s, no employee had ever
been released because of poor business. The senior
management of Hawthorne simply planned to let a
no-hiring rule and normal attrition handle the
problem.
They were a conservative group and felt that any
announcement of their decision might appear to be
flamboyant in the banking community, so no mention
was made to the press or to the employees of the
bank. It was felt the employees would understand the
banks tradition of no releases due to business
conditions, which wasnt a stated policy but had a
long history. Over the next several weeks, many
supervisors reported poor morale, jittery employees,
and a drop in productivity. All of this was traced to
retrenchments in competitor banks and the everpresent worry that Hawthorne would be next.

CASE STUDY III


The L. J. Thomson Company, a large chain store operation,
recently reorganized their structure after a six-month study
by an outside management consulting firm.
Prior to the reorganization each branch outlet sold company
and other products for both retail and wholesale. Retail sales
were made to customers who came to the branch while
wholesale sales were made by sales representatives who
called on customers in the branch marketing area. These
sales representatives handled large sales to other retailers
and industrial firms who bought in large quantities.
The consulting firm suggested separation of the wholesale
and retail business into profit centers so sales could be more
carefully measured and costs more accurately determined.
Wholesale sales representatives were moved out of the
branches and combined with the sales force from adjacent
marketing areas into regional wholesale sales offices.
Because the retail branches maintained the stock of
merchandise, they performed the ware-housing and shipping
function for the wholesale selling force. In addition returns
and adjustments were handled by the retail branch since it
retained the clerical force in existence before the
reorganization.
Ben Dixon was the manager of one of the new retail
branches.
He had been in charge before the reorganization, and he
resented his assignment to the retail branch, believing that
wholesale sales were easier and more profitable. He was
particularly angry to be saddled with the responsibility for
warehousing, shipping, returns, and adjustment. Clerical work
was costly and he simply didnt believe that the transfer
credits to cover costs which the branch received for handling
all but the sales function for wholesale selling would really
fully compensate the retail branch. He felt he was in a no